Mark 11:25 NKJV – Forgiven so I can forgive

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.

God’s forgiveness of believers’ sins leads them to pray for His forgiveness of others and to be forgiving to others. This is a command and not a choice. “Whoa! Wait a minute. You don’t know what he/she did to me.” No, I don’t, but Jesus is very clear with this command. Jesus said, “anything against anyone, forgive him”. Being forgiven is dependent on forgiving others.

I know that I struggled with obedience to this Scripture even after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Though I would tell you that my heart and mind were changed, I still had deep hurts from my past. Some of the hurt was actually bitterness that I refused to let go of. Bitterness is a bad seed. I’ll tell you that it eats at your life and endeavors to consume you. It’ like the worst kind of killing weed. The enemy uses bitterness to keep us from forgiving others. But our God is greater. The enemy is of the world, but God is not. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJV)

I had to learn that forgiveness begins with love for that individual. Loving those who hurt you. Loving those who persecute you. Loving those who scorn you. Loving those who tell lies about you. Loving those who others say are unlovable. “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8 NKJV) Jesus was very clear about loving your enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV)

Being changed and delivered from bitterness in my life gave me a freedom that cannot be adequately explained. A freedom of extreme joy. The change and the deliverance came after long hours and many days of being discipled from many brothers and sisters in the Lord and prayer. It was a process that was nurtured and fed with every moment I sought God in prayer. To love like Jesus loves, you need to have a relationship with Jesus. Man cannot love as Jesus loves without the power of His mercy and grace. Man cannot love as Jesus loves without an active relationship with love Himself, Jesus. Jesus is love!

Friend, our forgiveness of others is to be without limits. We are to forgive as Christ forgave us. Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for mankind’s sin. He suffered and died because of us; our sin nailed Him to the cross. The good news is, Jesus forgives. He rose from the grace to defeat sin and death once for all and forgives those who come to Him in faith and belief. Jesus forgives unconditionally when we humble ourselves and submit our lives to Him based on His mercy and grace. Our forgiveness of others must be as unconditional as Christ who forgave us. So where do we start? We start with prayer, seeking God for the mind and heart and compassion of Jesus. Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NKJV) You can choose to carry the bitterness of unforgiveness or you can choose to forgive those who have hurt or persecuted you. Make the right choice and go to God in prayer.

Precious Jesus, thank You for Your forgiveness. Lord, there have been times when bitterness has overtaken our hearts. Thank You Lord that You give us Your love that transcends our bitterness. We can love our enemies because Lord you love them. Teach us how to love as You love. Bring us to our knees as we seek You to understand the depth of Your forgiveness and love. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Jeremiah 31:3 NLT – Everlasting love

Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.

The while back I was looking over posts to my Facebook account, I noticed a posting from a dear friend and Pastor. I asked him if I could share the posting and he graciously gave me permission. Here are his thoughts:

“As I’m spending some time meditating and listening to music this morning. I felt the overwhelming presence of God’s Love. And I say “overwhelming” because it moved me to tears. I got this message that I’m going to share because someone else may benefit from it. God’s love is not something you can earn or purchase-it’s more valuable than that. God’s love is not something you can convolute or complicate-it’s more simple than that. God’s love is not something you can manufacture or manipulate-it’s much more genuine than that. God’s love is unexplainable & unshakeable. God’s love is available for you whether you feel worthy or not. God’s love is AMAZING!”

Thank you Pastor. I thank God for you being a part of my life. I, too, believe that this message is for someone out there who needs or should I say desires to understand what defines the “Love of God”. What is God’s love? Well, God’s love cannot be purchased. It’s free…given to all who accept it. It has no price tag rather you can receive it just by asking for it.   It’s not complicated at all, it’s simply this, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NKJV) God loved you and He loved me even before time began. And He continues to love us with an everlasting love. A love that NEVER ends.

God’s love cannot be manufactured by anyone or any other thing. It comes from the heart of our Father in Heaven. It’s genuine. It’s real, having great value and cannot be pretended. It’s honest and open. And God’s love is unexplainable and it cannot be shaken. God said, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” God has called you His people. God is our Creator. Believe it. And He will love you forever. And His love is unfailing. You can’t be disappointed in His love. It’s not an earthly love, but an eternal and everlasting love.

Friend, God’s love is amazing. It truly is. There was a time in my life where I could not understand the love of God or what it meant to be loved by God. I was not able to understand because the thought of God was not with me. I was lost and living for the benefit of myself and no one else. But let me tell you something, God’s love is real and it’s alive and it’s available. God’s love is named Jesus.   Yes, God’s love has a name.   A name above all other names. The Name of Jesus!!! “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV) God is love itself. “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:15-16 NIV) How can we be sure that God lives in us and we possess the love of God? We need to pray. We need to ask God to live in us and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Do you need to seek God today for this? You can. Right now if you choose. Prayer is foundational to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our personal relationship with Jesus begins with a prayer and is nurtured through prayer. Why not begin today with the first prayer. Ask God to put His love in you in the person of Jesus Christ.

Dear Jesus. I don’t understand what God’s love means. I don’t know where to begin, but I am told that God’s love is in the Name of Jesus. I need this kind of love in my life. So Lord, come to me and come into my life and heart. Jesus I acknowledge You as love and the Son of God. I accept You as my Lord and Savior. I am a sinner in need of You. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the grave so that I can live eternally with You. Thank You for loving me with an everlasting love and placing Your love in me so that I can love others as You love me. Lead me in Your ways. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Hosea 11:4 NKJV – The Tenderness of God

I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.

What imagery in this Scripture. God caring for His creation. I have found this to be true at all times. I may not have recognized it initially or I might have even rejected it, but God loves and cares for us. God’s love is His deepest expression to us because it’s God’s nature to love. He defines love. He is love.

God’s love for us is eternal. “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV) God’s love is a covenant love. Covenant is defined as a serious and formal agreement. God made a covenant promise to Abraham. “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:7-9 NKJV) This covenant love remains for us.

We can rely and absolutely trust God for His love. He bands us together with Him. He removes our yokes and He is faithful to feed us. God’s gift of supreme love is His Son, Jesus. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10 NKJV)

Jesus has a love especially for the lowly and needy; the lonely and bereaved. His words demonstrate God’s mercy and grace.  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 NKJV) “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”” (Luke 7:13 NKJV)

Friend, if you desire a tender, loving touch from God, it’s as close as a prayer. Prayer brings the supernatural into the natural. Prayer brings God into your situation, your need, your sorrow, your healing. Prayer brings you into God’s tender care; with gentle cords, with bands of love.

Dear Lord, thank You that You care for us. Thank You that You love us with an everlasting love. We delight that we are in an everlasting covenant with you and rejoice that You are our God. Teach us Your ways so that we remain in the steps You order. Forgive us Lord when we turn from You and go back to our ways. We repent Lord and seek You to bring us back to You. We love You Jesus and pray in Your name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Romans 12:10-15 NKJV – The importance of love

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

In these verses, there is a common theme…the importance of love. We are to love one another in brotherly love as of the “Household of God”. The believer should be fervent in living for Jesus Christ. We should have enthusiasm and high energy. We should rejoice with each other, have patience when we face difficult times, and remain diligent in prayer. And we should care for each other as the need arises.

When we are insulted and pushed around, made to feel like we don’t matter, we should bless those who do that to us. We should be praying for God’s favor for them and that their hearts would be softened to receive the power of the Holy Spirit to guide them to turn towards Jesus. Jesus said, “But I say to you who hear; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27 NKJV) Our unity as Christians is best displayed in the empathy we show each other in moments of extreme joy or deep, deep sorrow. In short, we must behave like a Christian.

Where do we start? We start with a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is love. So much so that He gave His life for us so that we could be with Him where He is. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3 NKJV) A genuine relationship begins with prayer. Setting aside time each day to spend with Jesus. To let Him know how we’re feeling, what we are facing, to thank Him, to praise Him, to tell Him how much we love Him. Prayer is so important to help us grow in the knowledge of the love Jesus has for us because it’s in those times of prayer that Jesus speaks to us. The more we get to know about Jesus in prayer and the study of His Word, the more He returns that love to us in abundance.

I can tell you that when I felt there was no one or nothing else that could love me, Jesus came boldly and aggressively into my life. He pursued me and captured my heart and my love. “And he arose and come to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20 NKJV) And Jesus will do that for you as well, if you would let Him.

Dear Jesus, help us to love as You love us. Lord, thank You for teaching us in Your Word what it means to be Christlike. Lord, we desire to have a genuine relationship with You. We desire to spend time with you. Help us to grow in our knowledge and love for You. Thank You for pursuing us and capturing our hearts. We love You and praise You. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 6:27-28 NKJV – The Source

But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.

Again, this very verse has challenged me. AND again, the challenge occurred at the workplace. Now I have to say that I am very thankful for the employment I have and the people I work with every day. But there are days, when the stresses of the work begin to wear on everyone. And that’s when things are said that people don’t mean to say. Now, it’s just not at the workplace that this occurs. It can happen anywhere. It’s not like we live in a peaceable world. There is chaos, and strife, and tension just about everywhere. When you experience it, well, it’s not good.

Now I wouldn’t call any of these people my enemies and frankly, when I get drawn into the situation myself, and I fall, I pray I’m not looked upon as an enemy. But this scripture is very clear as to what I am to do when I’m treated wrongly. There have been times that I have been used spitefully and even cursed at. It’s then I have to stop and bridle my tongue and not respond in defense. Defense is a natural survival mechanism, but when not controlled it can get you in a lot of trouble.

Scripture teaches us that it is wrong to strike back or to return evil for evil, whether by immediate retaliation or by taking revenge later. Forgiveness is always the best approach. God’s forgiveness of our sins leads us to pray for His forgiveness of others and to be forgiving in our dealings with other people. Is this easy? Well, sometimes it’s not especially if we don’t understand where our “Source” of forgiveness is.

The “Source” of forgiveness, the “Source” of our peace, the “Source” of our compassion for others comes from the Blood of Jesus. It’s only through the Blood of Jesus that we can endure this world, that we can forgive as we have been forgiven, that we can love our enemies.

These last couple of days has been a challenge to me and I am so thankful that God is still working in me to live a life pleasing to Him in all I say and do. I’m being transparent today because I want you to know that if you are struggling with loving your enemies or those who do you wrong, you are not alone.   I struggle as well. But we have Jesus. The lover of our souls. Who loves us with an everlasting love and through His Blood, we can pour out that kind of love on others. Even on those who hurt us.

Will I have more days like today? I’m sure that I will. But I pray that I remember what God has spoken to me about over these last few days. We must always remember our “Source”. Thank You Jesus!

Precious Lord, thank You for Your precious blood. It’s the source of life and everything we are. Your precious blood allows us to live and breathe in this world. Let us always remember to cling to You and Your sacrifice on the cross to enable us to demonstrate to the world that You are alive. Help us Lord to draw our strength from You. May we always love our enemies and forgive all who persecute us. Thank You Jesus. In Your Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!